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My best carp and catfish rig is a super simple semi-fixed inline lead rig that converts to a running rig for great results.

Like all anglers, I have spent hundreds of hours tying carp rigs, tweaking them and looking for the best rig set up and presentation. When I came to France and became the owner of the Beausoleil fishing lake, I realised that I needed to make a bottom bait rig that was easy to tie and suitable for estate-type lakes with big carp, large catfish and sturgeon.

best inline carp rig with bottom baits

I developed this inline lead rig specifically for fishing Beausoleil but I would use it in any lake where the fishing is done at less than 80 yards and there is little or no weed. This post is the first of a series where I will not only explain how to tie a universal carp and catfish rig but I will explain why and how it works. I will also explain any tests to make at each stage to make sure you’ve done it right and what the significance is behind each test. I make no claim that certain ideas that have been incorporated into it are original, however their use in combination is a little unique.

It’s a simple, super strong bottom bait rig for better hooking efficiency

inline carp rig diagram

At first glance it may look like the simplest, most basic carp rig in the world and you’d be right, it is and for good reason! To put it simply, it’s a double bottom bait carp rig tied with a knotless knot and a 2-turn kicker to 10in braid which is connected to an inline lead pushed over a tapered sleeve to create a semi fixed setup that converts to a running rig on the take. This prevents the carp using the weight of the lead to swing out the rig and provides optimal bite indication no matter which way the fish swims and no matter how slack you fish your lines.

I make no claim that I’m the world’s greatest angler or rig guru because I’m not. I am also not in the pay of anyone or any company which I may mention. What I do know is how and why this rig works at Beausoleil, and the positive effect that it has had on my own and many of our clients’ results and why it could help you catch more carp and catfish in the UK or in France.

Why is this the best carp rig for fishing estate-type lakes?

  • It can handle carp from 10lb and catfish to 80lb
  • It can be fished over most bottom types (except weed) with total confidence
  • It can be fished with slack lines without reducing bite indication
  • It reduces pickups from non-target species such as bream
  • It has a high pickup/run conversion rate because it’s hard to eject
  • It is easy to tie and uses the minimum number of components and knots
  • It gives a stealthy presentation that is very difficult for the carp to detect until it’s too late
  • You can apply its principles to a whole host of variations

How to tie this bottom bait rig: check out the video below

Design principles of this carp rig

As I said, initially, I developed this rig specifically for Beausoleil. I wanted something that was very safe, easy to tie and used as few components as possible. It also had to be super strong, suitable for the variety of bottoms present and effective for the resident fish within the lake. With carp ranging in size from 20-50lb and catfish from 50-100lb, it’s not easy to find something that will cope with it all. Its principles can be readily applied to other waters in France and the UK. Here’s what I want this rig to do:

  • Be Discrete – Be stealthy enough so that the carp or catfish approach it and are confident enough to pick it up.
  • Prick the fish – If your rig can’t prick the fish in the first place then it’s useless and you may as well lob it up a tree! Also if the hook doesn’t penetrate far enough, all you’re going to get is a hook pull (see related article: How to create your own ultra sharp hooks for more information)
  • Gain a good hook hold – Good rigs turn over quickly and prevent the carp from getting rid of it.
  • Positively indicate a pick up – Bite indication is a lot more complicated than simply using a bite alarm! Getting it wrong is easy and if you do, you could be done three times in an hour and never know!
  • Control the fish for the duration of the fight – Failing at this final step really is the last straw! Rig security is fundamental and yet so little attention is paid when and where it is needed the most.
  • Render itself safe if lost – Large, powerful fish in a relatively small estate lake will result in lost tackle remaining in the lake. It’s critical that a lost rig poses as low a threat as possible to the fish.


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2 thoughts on “Matt’s universal bottom bait inline carp rig

  1. Hello: This is not a comment, but here is the question.
    This will be my first try to fish the carp (Kawartha region, Ontario). It’s likely going to be muddy and weedy bottom. It’s surprising but I can’t get an answer anywhere: should the empty hook for carp hair rig lay flat on the bottom or fly 25 cm above the bottom with the hair with the bait (corn) 2 cm above the hook?
    I’m asking more simply: empty hook should be flat on the bottom or above the bottom?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Sergey, thanks for your question. All my fishing is done on the bottom, that’s how most carp fishing is done. So, If the corn you use sinks (which is normal) when hair-rigged, the weight of the corn plus the weight of the hook will easily sink it to the bottom, and that’s how it should be. If the bottom is soft (muddy) the bait will sit on the mud while the lead may sink into it. If the lake bottom is weedy then the bait may sit on top or in the weed (depending on the specific type of weed). Again, that’s fine, it’s going to work either way. The most important part of any rig is hook sharpness. We rely on the hook and the rig to strike for us and the smallest imperfection in the hook point makes the whole rig useless. As long as your hooks are razor sharp and you carefully follow my design, you will catch plenty. Carp fishing isn’t as hard as some would have you believe! I hope this helps, good luck, Matt.

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